UPDATE: TEMA false alarm puts residents near nuclear plants on high alert
UPDATE: TEMA officials say sirens within a 10-mile radius of both the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant and Sequoyah Nuclear Plant went off “inadvertently” Wednesday morning at 11:00 am, which is an hour before schedule.
Some residents nearby were alarmed themselves. Police in Soddy Daisy said more than a dozen people called in Wednesday wondering what was going on and were concerned that there may have been an emergency.
Channel 3 learned from TEMA officials that it was just a mistake and they plan on taking "corrective action" to prevent it from happening again.
Chief Jeff Gann with the Soddy-Daisy Police Department says in his 53 years living in Soddy-Daisy, the TVA warning sirens have sounded off like clockwork.
“Living in this area, we’re very accustomed to that time frame. We know it’s the first Wednesday,” Gann told Channel 3.
On the first Wednesday of every month at exactly noon, the alarms sound. So when they came on this past Wednesday at 11:00 am, many residents nearby were alarmed.
“It was somewhat disturbing for the fact that of a lot of people assumed that someone possibly went ahead and moved their clocks because we’re getting ready to do a time change,” he continued.
Here's a look at a few of those calls:
911: "Soddy-Daisy Police."
Resident 1: "Yes, could you tell me why the sirens are going off?"
911: "We’re not sure ma’am. We’ll call Sequoyah and get it narrowed down."
Resident 1: "Oh okay thank you."
911: "You’re welcome."
911: “Soddy-Daisy Police."
Resident 2: "The sirens are going off and it’s 11:00 am. Is there any reason for that and should we be doing something?"
911: "We’ll call Sequoya and try to get it figured out."
Resident 2: "So, no emergencies right now?"
911: "Not that we’re aware of.”
TEMA officials say the mix up was the result of a “training issue” amongst watchpoint officers who made the call.
Gann says his trick to knowing the difference between an emergency and a test is the duration.
“When they test, they run them for one minute. If it’s a true emergency, then those sirens would not stop,” he explained.
However, TVA spokesman Jim Hopson says hearing the sirens should not be an alarm but an alert to check local broadcasts for the emergency alert system.
Officials with TEMA will be re-training the agency's watchpoint officers, several of whom are newer employees according to spokesman Dean Fleanor.
PREVIOUS STORY: Around 11 o'clock Wednesday morning, Sequoyah Nuclear Plant sounded its alarm -- as a test.
The nuclear plant routinely tests the emergency siren on the first Wednesday of each month around noon.
When the emergency siren sounded approximately an hour earlier than normal, panic ensued.
An emergency alert was sent out to mobile devices at around 11:29 p.m. testing the IPAWS, Integrated Public Alert & Warning System.
The Tennessee Valley Authority posted to social media after 12:30 p.m. announcing that the test was conducted "a little earlier than planned" and that "there is no emergency at the plant."
There is still not an explanation as to why the siren test occurred earlier than scheduled.